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Matsés language

  (Redirected from Pisabo)

The Matsés language (also ambiguously called Mayoruna) is an indigenous language of the Peruvian and Brazilian Amazon basin which belongs to the Panoan language family and is spoken by ca. 2000 Matsés people (Fleck 2006). The language is vigorous and is spoken by all age groups in the Matsés communities. In the Matsés communities several other indigenous languages are also spoken by women who have been captured from neighboring tribes and some mixture of the languages occur (Fields & Wise 1976 p. 1, Fleck 2006 p. 542).

Native to Perú, Brazil
Ethnicity Matsés
Native speakers
2,200 (2006)[1]
  • Mayoruna
    • Mayo
      • Matses group
        • Matsés
Language codes
ISO 639-3 mcf
Glottolog mats1244[2]
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Dialects are Peruvian Matses, Brazilian Matses, and the extinct Paud Usunkid.



The language is spoken in the Loreto Region of Peru and the Amazonas state of Brazil, along the Javari River and its tributaries. A large community is found at Yaquerana in the Maynas Province of Loreto.


Along with the languages of the Matis and Korubo peoples, Matsés constitutes the Mayoruna subgroup of the Panoan languages.


According to Fleck (2003) Matses has six vowels and 18 consonants.


The vowel system of Matses is peculiar in that no vowels are rounded. Both of its back vowels should accurately be represented as [ɯ] and [ɤ] but the convention is to transcribe them with ⟨u⟩ and ⟨o⟩.(Fleck 2003, p. 72)

Front Central Back
i ɨ u [ɯ]
Mid ɛ o [ɤ]


The consonants of Matsés according to Fleck (2003).

Consonants  Labial  Alveolar  Retroflex  Palatal  Velar  Glottal 
Stop  p b t d     k (ʔ)
Fricative    s ʂ ʃ    
Affricates    ts    
Nasal  m n     (ŋ)  
Approximant  w     j    
Flap      ɾ      


The Matsés language is primarily suffixing and highly synthetic with many morphological possibilities and potentially very long words. There is body-part prefixation, but no productive noun incorporation (Fleck 2006b). Inflectional and class-changing morphology is fusional, while non-class-changing derivational morphology is mostly agglutinative. Matsés is predominantly “dependent-marking” and uses ergative–absolutive case-marking. Its basic word order is SOV.

Pisabo "language"Edit

Native to Peru, Brazil
Native speakers
600 (2006)[3]
Language codes
ISO 639-3 pig
Glottolog pisa1244[4]

Pisabo, also known as Pisagua (Pisahua), is a purported Panoan language spoken by approximately 600 people in Peru and formerly in Brazil, where it was known as Mayo (Maya, Maia) and was evidently the language known as Quixito.[5] However, no linguistic data is available (Fleck 2013) and it is reported to be mutually intelligible with Matses.


  1. ^ Matsés at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Matses". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ Matsés language at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  4. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Pisabo". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  5. ^ Campbell & Grondona (2012) The Indigenous Languages of South America: A Comprehensive Guide, p. 102
  • Fields, Harriet L. & Mary Ruth Wise (1976) Bosquejo de la Fonología Matses (Mayoruna), Datos Etno-Lingüisticos No 31, SIL, Lima Peru [1] (in Spanish)
  • Fleck, David W. (2003) A grammar of Matses. PhD. Dissertation presented at Rice University found at Rice University Electronic Theses and Dissertations
  • Fleck, David W. (2006) Antipassive in Matses. Studies in Language, Volume 30, Number 3, pp. 551–573(23)
  • Fleck, David W. (2006b) "Body-Part Prefixes in Matses: Derivation or Noun Incorporation?", IJAL 72,1, 59-96.